Despite a state budget picture that remains in flux, administrators of the Mequon-Thiensville School District proposed a 2015-16 budget Monday that includes several new initiatives.
■ Math specialists ($125,000) – The two new positions will mean there will be a full-time math specialist in all six of the district’s buildings. There are now four specialists, who cover the three elementary schools and are shared across the two middle schools. The number of students who tested “below proficient” on a 10th-grade standardized test range from 26. 7 percent to 30.1 percent for the classes of 2014 to 2016, the superintendent said.
■ Lacrosse ($10,000) – The sport is growing in popularity. The Brookfield high schools, Arrowhead High School and University School of Milwaukee already have teams. There also are active programs in Madison and the Fox River Valley. Athletic Director Ryan Mangan said about 50 Homestead students are already playing lacrosse on club teams. Lacrosse is a spring sport for boys and girls. Games would be played on the football field.
■ Special education ($8,000) – The stipend for the special education leadership team will help to ensure better service for the students and parents served by special education programs. The team will be the “most effective conduit to our students and their parents,” Means said.
When the M-T School Board met Monday, Superintendent Demond Means told them they were projecting a $550,000 shortfall with the budget. One option for covering that would have been to dip into the school district’s $10.2 million fund balance.
The bulk of the shortfall was due to the anticipated loss of about $520,000 in categorical aid – $150 per student – from the state, which was proposed by Gov. Scott Walker. While final passage of the budget has not yet occurred, the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance on Tuesday voted to restore much of that funding.
The school district’s anticipated budget shortfall could have been worse. The school district’s levying authority is based on enrollment and the district is expecting an increase in enrollment in 2015-16 for just the second time in the last decade.
They are expecting an increase of 49 resident students, which is due to the inaugural class of 4-year-old kindergarten. Without those students, the district said enrollment would have declined by 81 students, administrators said.
“That 4K number has certainly helped to balance our enrollment projections,” said Gail Grieger, the school district’s director of business services.
In addition to the good enrollment news, the district is also realizing savings in other areas, including managing employee health care costs so an increase is held to 3 percent, saving $240,000 by bidding the school bus contract, an anticipated $261,000 in annual savings due to the sale of district owned land along Swan Road and $300,000 in personnel savings achieved through the elimination of two elementary positions and other savings through retirement and attrition.
The school board has typically voted on its budget for the coming school year earlier in the spring. That discussion was delayed this year because of the potentially significant impact posed by Walker’s budget. The school board is now scheduled to take final action at its June 15 meeting.
(Source: Gary Achterberg at News Graphic)